Cluster of COVID-19 cases in N.S. linked to traveller who failed to self-isolate: Strang
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health is urging travellers to abide by the province’s self-isolation rule after confirming that a recent cluster of cases in the northern zone is linked to a traveller who failed to self-isolate.
Dr. Robert Strang said Wednesday that there have been three small clusters of COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia over the past two weeks. All of the clusters originated in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s northern zone.
Strang said one cluster involves someone who travelled from outside the Atlantic bubble to visit family and did not self-isolate.
“In this situation, the individual incorrectly believed that they were exempt from self-isolation, but they were not,” said Strang during a news conference in Halifax.
Strang said three other people, including a close contact and two people who were at a restaurant at the same time as the infected person, contracted COVID-19.
Last week, the Nova Scotia Health Authority issued an advisory, stating that customers who visited Murphy’s Fish and Chips in Truro, N.S., from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 9 may have been exposed to the virus.
On Sunday, the provincial government reported that a man in his 80s in the northern zone died as a result of COVID-19. The province said the case was related to a traveller from outside the Atlantic bubble.
Strang reiterated Wednesday that anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic provinces is required to self-isolate for 14 days.
“If you’re supposed to be self-isolating, you need to do so,” said Strang. “The stakes are simply too high to disregard the rules and if you’re unclear about the rules, ask, and err on the side of caution by isolating while you’re waiting to get the answer.”
OTHER CLUSTERS INVOLVE WORKERS
Another small cluster of cases in the northern zone involves two foreign workers who travelled to Nova Scotia from another country. Strang said the workers self-isolated and were tested as required by their employer’s quarantine protocol.
“There were no exposures to anybody in Nova Scotia from those two cases,” said Strang. “The quarantine process worked as it’s supposed to work.”
The third cluster involves someone who travelled to Nova Scotia for work and later tested positive in their home province.
“We believe that an individual in Nova Scotia contracted COVID-19 from this individual and then three other close contacts of the Nova Scotian then tested positive,” explained Strang.
Strang said there are no links between the three clusters and, other than the two cases linked to the restaurant, there is no additional evidence of community spread.
“These clusters illustrate why we have to continue to be vigilant,” said Strang. “It clearly shows the importance of self-isolation and following public health directives and advice. We are in this pandemic for the long haul.”
Strang would not release any additional information about the clusters, including where exactly in the northern zone the cases are located.
1 NEW COVID-19 CASE
Nova Scotia reported a new case of COVID-19 in the northern zone on Wednesday.
Strang confirmed the new case is a close contact of another COVID-19 case in the northern zone.
The latest case brings the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia to 1,081 and the number of active cases of the disease to five.
A total of 65 COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed in the northern zone.
The QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 621 Nova Scotia tests on Tuesday. One new case was identified.
To date, Nova Scotia has 72,532 negative test results.
There are now 1,081 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, but 1,011 cases are now considered resolved, and 65 people have died, leaving five active cases in the province.
Among the 64 Nova Scotians who died from COVID-19 are 53 residents of the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax. The outbreak at Northwood is considered resolved.
The province's confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.
Sixty-one per cent of cases are female and 39 per cent are male.
There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.
The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.
The numbers reflect where a person lives, and not where their sample was collected.
- western zone: 54 cases
- central zone: 909 cases
- northern zone: 65 cases
- eastern zone: 53 cases
RESTRICTIONS EASED IN LONG-TERM CARE
Strang announced the following loosening of restrictions in long-term care homes:
- There is no longer a cap on the number of people a resident can identify for indoor visits.
- Residents in long-term care facilities can now leave for medical appointments, while accompanied by family members.
- Community-based adult day programs can resume, with an approved plan that meets public health guidelines.
WORKING WITH VENUES TO ALLOW LARGE GATHERINGS
The province announced Wednesday that government is working with four venues so they can host larger audiences than allowed by the current gathering limits.
The four facilities include Centre 200 in Sydney, the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Riverside International Speedway, in Antigonish County and Scotia Speedworld, near the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
The venues will be able to host audiences that include multiple groups of up to 200 people for indoor events and groups of up to 250 people for outdoor events – but only if they meet strict criteria and have a detailed plan approved by public health.
The plan must include how the facilities intend to keep each group separate in its own ‘bubble’ at the venue.
SYMPTOMS AND SELF-ISOLATION
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days.
Anyone who travels to Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic region is also required to self-isolate for 14 days and must fill out a self-declaration form before coming to the province.
Residents of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador are not required to self-isolate when travelling to Nova Scotia, but they must be prepared to provide proof of their place of residency at provincial borders.
Visitors from outside the Atlantic region who have already self-isolated in another Atlantic province for 14 days may travel to Nova Scotia without having to self-isolate again.
Anyone who experiences one of the following symptoms is encouraged to take an online test to determine if they should call 811 for further assessment:
- fever (i.e. chills, sweats)
- cough or worsening of a previous cough
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
- nasal congestion/runny nose
- hoarse voice
- unusual fatigue
- loss of sense of smell or taste
- red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause
The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Sept. 6.